Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Around London  §

I was previously prepared to report that London was very green, but it turns out that now, having moved into our second set of digs in the city, I can report instead that in some places it is tremendously green with rolling lawns and endless bay windows, while in other places it is very urban and rather reminiscent of Brooklyn.

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Traveling internationally has turned into something of a sim-hopping and account-hopping game. Citi won’t let me log in from UK addresses without MFA (multiple factor authentication) which for some reason in my case has been failing despite me being myself. So I’ve had to keep re-inserting the American sim that barely works to try to international-roam to their 1-800 number to try to bypass MFA so that I can access the American account from British network environs.

Meanwhile, the local T-Mobile sim that I have can only be topped up using a British bank account, or by getting cash from a “Cash Machine” (British for ATM) and finding a store than can swipe the T-Mobile card that came with the sim.

There’s no easy way, at the same time, to call the U.S. from the T-Mobile sim, so I keep re-inserting the American sim to try to international-roam when calling American numbers, generally to ask them to connect via Skype in fragmented conversations consisting of multiple segments just a few words long. It’s quite arduous.

The whole thing is a bit of a fool’s dance. Things clearly are meant to work better than this. I look forward to the day when you can call anywhere using one sim and when you can log on anywhere as though it’s one Internet.

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Had my first British fish & chips in paper tonight. It really does come in paper, it’s really, really greasy, it’s best with salt and vinegar, and all in all quite good, though my wife tells me that “real” fish & chips are to be had for more money whilst (British for “while”) sitting down in a pub (of which there are many here) (many, many) (many, many, many—like, on every single street corner).

Also had some Kebab. Chicken variety, with chili sauce. The chili sauce part was nice, but the chicken part left something to be desired. Lamb next time, if we get back ’round to it. Which we might not.

Quick bit of trivia: “chips” are not actually the same thing as “fries.” Fries are longer. Chips really are, more or less, “chips” chunked off of a potato. Meanwhile, what are “chips” to Americans are “crisps” here. I find both of the British terms to be clearer and more denotatively accurate. After all, American potato chips are also fried, so why are they not “fries?” And why do they not resemble the shapes you get from “chipping” anything using any chipping technology available? They’re actually slices rather than chips. But they are crisp, etc.

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One of my best friends in the world has long made a habit of disciplining and correcting other peoples’ children when she felt as though they behaved particularly badly. I used to be undecided about this practice, but after recent events, I can more clearly see the utility of such a habit.

It’s good for kids to get input from all sides, including learning when people apart from their own relatives are particularly upset with them—it’s valuable experience and information for them to have, and helps them to understand some of the value of behaving in keeping with their parents’ suggestions. (Or, in the absence of parents’ suggestions, it gives them perhaps their first and only insight into empathy.)

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My wife just said we are a cool couple and she may be right. We live in New York, don’t work regular nine-to-fives, have a pit bull and a bunch of Apple gear, named our baby in a language neither of us speaks (though at the same time neither of us has the same native language), and we’ve just dragged her at five months to London, where we immediately set about staying in an SRO with a shared-floor bathroom in a bohemian neighborhood, taking her out at night for fish & chips and kebab and a slew of local brews. Oh, and daddy blogs.

I hope it’s not the wrong kind of cool. But I suppose that if it is a little reflexivity at least helps to mitigate (somewhat) the “wrong” part.

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What was supposed to be a working trip for practical purposes has quickly turned into a bit of a sloppy trip that’s doubling as a sorely-needed vacation. Thank goodness for all of the nonsense that has continued to make work completely implausible, and thank goodness it kept on long enough for me to stop stressing out about it all and throw up my hands.

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Now we just have the rest of the week trying to impress the in-laws to live through.